A Bit of Mythology
The beginning of our family holiday to Crete, in search of the mythical Icarus. Well, not really, but it’s a convenient title for the first post of the holiday, when I couldn’t think of a better one.
- Icarus was trying to escape from Crete, whereas we were trying to get there
- Icarus had wings made of feathers and wax. As far as I know, the wings we used were mainly aluminium and kerosene
- We survived the trip out
So apart from it being totally different, it’s quite similar. Probably. Anyway, Icarus was Greek, and Crete is involved in the story somewhere. So that’ll do for me.
The lesson to learn here is that if you’re interested in actual Greek mythology, then this probably isn’t going to be the most informative location for you.
We’d decided a while back when we booked the holiday that we don’t especially like UK regional airports. Some are OK. I guess Birmingham is OK. But Stansted is a pain in the posterior to reach from our house and going through Luton is one of the most soul-destroying activities known to mankind. So we upgraded our flights to be with BA on a scheduled flight from Heathrow Terminal 5. It wasn’t much more expensive, and promised to be altogether more pleasant.
And then, of course, it became obvious we were still in a pandemic and Heathrow is short-staffed. So flights are being canceled and they don’t always manage to load the bags. So it promised to be a bit of a wild-west experience. But nevermind. We’re booked, so that’s the end of it.
The flight we were booked on is a daily one which leaves Heathrow at 8am UK time, flys to Heraklion, refuels and then flies home again. We hoped the 8am take-off and the fact that it’s the only Heraklion flight of the day meant there was a high chance of it not being busy, and not being cancelled.
We left home at about 3:45am. It’s an hour to Heathrow from our house and we were supposed to check in 3 hours before our schedule take-off.
The drive went well and we were at the Heathrow Meet-and-Greet parking before you could say Jack Robinson. Well, not quite that quick, but there weren’t any hold-ups. We were there so early that the Heathrow T5 Meet-and-Greet wasn’t open. We know from past experience that they don’t arrive until 5am, but that was perfect. After a few minutes of lingering the guys turned up and we were away.
Despite being asked to arrive three hours before our flight, we couldn’t actually drop our luggage off until two hours before. “Why?” one wonders. Mysteries of the universe. Anyway, we couldn’t drop the bags off until 6am, so we took them with us into Cafe Nero to grab some breakfast. Kas had taken the tactically brilliant move of buying those little sensor things you can put in your bag so you can track them on the phone.
Once we did drop the bags off, the walk through security at Heathrow was not unpleasant. Both kids got stopped and frisked. Neither adult did.
And then we had about 90 minutes to waste inside the departure lounge. It was quite busy in there. We had a bit of shopping to do – we needed sweets to treat popping-ears on the plane, and Venus had forgotten to put her lens cleaner in the suitcase, so it got snatched, so we had to buy more.
The plane was a nice new-ish Airbus thing with over 200 seats, most of which were full. The tags told us that all four bags were on the plane as well as us being there.
The first part of the flight was grey and cloudy, so not much to see out of the window apart from the “top” bits of the Alps poking their heads through the clouds. Once we got over to northern Italy there was a very clear view of Venice out of the right side, and then we flew all the way down the Dalmatian Coast and over Athens before crossing the Greek Islands to reach Crete.
In the baggage hall we could confirm on Kas’s phone that all four bags were, indeed, somewhere in Heraklion Airport. They all popped up on the conveyor eventually.
Driven in Style
I booked a transfer from the airport to our hotel in a private minibus. Partly because I didn’t want to sit on a big bus, and partly because we’d decided not to rent a car for the whole holiday.
The hotel does an all-inclusive package. It seemed wasteful to then book a car for the full period because I’d feel guilty about not using it. And anyway, I didn’t fancy renting a car large enough to take the four of us plus our luggage. That’s partly because the roads in Crete aren’t wide, and partly because the cost of renting a big car was ridiculous.
So we got a private minibus. That meant there was a bloke waiting in the airport for us carrying a sign with my name on it. I’ve never done that before.
He got us to our hotel in about half an hour, which was great. He knew the way, which is good because we didn’t.
The process of checking in was unnecessarily painful, in my opinion. We had to fill an online form for everyone. It didn’t seem to work. After 20 minutes of farting around he gave us some paper forms and we filled them in by hand. Job done. We’re staying at the Panorama Village in Agia Pelagia by the way.
And then, of course, because we booked all-inclusive, we are obliged to wear little plastic tags around our wrists for the duration. They don’t come off. Not in a way whereby they can be put back on, anyway. Unless you’re Venus. She can get hers over her wrist and hand.
And that was more or less enough for one day apart from discovering a couple more things about the hotel.
- The all-inclusive drinks come in small paper cups during the day but glasses during meal service and in the “proper” bar
- The air conditioning in the rooms switches off if the balcony doors are open
- There’s a supermarket down the road (within 100m) that does drinks and multiple foodstuffs at very reasonable prices, for those periods when we’re going to be out of the room